Matchpoints. None vulnerable.
♠4 ♥A J 9 5 ♦K 8 7 6 2 ♣K 7 4
(1) Michaels cuebid: 8–11 or 17+ HCP.
(2) Less than invitational.
What’s your call?
A majority goes for the sensible pass. Everyone regrets having bid this hand so unimaginatively up to this point. South might well have foreseen this development and planned ahead — 3NT over 3♠ would have asked North to identify which minor he holds. Over 4♠, South could try 4NT. West might have passed, equally curious to find out whether North holds clubs or diamonds. If North has the red suits, South probably needs to compete to 6♦ (certainly at IMPs). Opposite clubs, however, defending 5♠ rates to be the winner. Alas, we never communicated to partner that we expected to make 4♥ and possibly 5♥ as well.
“I hate that split level (Michaels) range but for once, it helps out,” says Lawrence. “I have learned that North has the weak range. Unfortunately, South made a bad bid over 4♠. He should have bid 4NT. West might conceivably have passed, and I would have learned which suit North has. One oddity here is that North might have just one spade, in which case, we really should play in diamonds if that is North’s second suit. It would allow for a possible club discard from the North hand. All of which begs the question: what to bid now? I am passing. It’s too easy to imagine a layout where they can make 5♠, even perhaps six. If they go down at all, it should be good for us. ♠x ♥K Q 10 x x ♦Q J 10 x x ♣x x is a possible North hand.”
Boehm assigns North a nearly identical hand and passes. “4NT at my second turn, implying a double fit, might have helped North if he holds extra shape,” agrees Boehm.
“Maybe we’re already ahead of the game,” says Cohen. “Perhaps partner came in with a hand where most of the field passed. If everyone else is defending 4♠ and we can beat 5♠ a trick, there is no need to double. Also if we are beating them, why risk undoing all the good work by saving?”
“Pass. I have no idea who can make what on this hand,” says Meyers. “We pushed them to the five level. I am done.”
“We took a five-level save (with some small possibility of a make) at equal vulnerability,” chronicle the Gordons. “They took the push. Isn’t this called ‘mission accomplished’?”
Robinson’s punt this time puts the other team deep in their own territory, he hopes. “I have no reason to believe this is our hand, and we have pushed them to the five level. There. I’ve used the ‘P’ word again.”
As the scorer notes, the doublers are no doubt attempting to make up for their unilateral bidding up through 5♥. “But with North’s hand a riddle (beyond the fact that he would probably have doubled 5♠ with two aces and might have bid five of something with 5–5 and surely with 5–6, as well as some hands with a spade void), North is ill-placed to do anything but sit for the double, which is not at all what we desire with the information available so far,” Falk deduces.
Meckstroth doubles. “I have no reason to think we can make 6♥ and I think we will beat 5♠.”
Colchamiro doubles “to show my 5♥ bid was for a make. But partner could have diamonds so I wouldn’t be totally shocked if they made it. But they probably won’t.”
Kennedy doubles. “It could be a double game swing but I expect to set them.”
Stack doubles. “Because we might have had a reasonable chance at making 5♥, it is now time to double with good defense.”
And Rigal doubles. “I don’t know what else to do. Passing it out can hardly be our smallest minus?”
Falk looks at the 6♥ bid as giving credit to West for guessing correctly. “But at matchpoints, that’s a big position. Having taken partner out of the hand, that had better be the right choice, or South will be at the partnership desk for the next session — maybe the next hand!
Should we look for you at the partnership desk, Sutherlins? “6♥. We know partner does not have 17-plus because he passed West’s bid of 4♠. We are probably not beating 5♠. This level does not always belong to the opponents.”